It’s actually simple, yet unless you’re in the building game you probably think you’ll never mix mortar yourself. Well, my question to you is, Why not? Save heaps of money by learning how to DIY.


What you’ll need to mix your own mortar

Tips n’ Tricks:

Adding detergent aerates the water and makes the mix fluffy, workable and stops the mortar drying quickly.

Once mortar is mixed put a little on your trowel, flip mortar gently on trowel and turn trowel upside down. If mortar sticks to your trowel then you’re consistency is good to go!

Mortar mix ratio

4 brickies loam : 1 builders cement

(Unless otherwise specified in an engineer’s report for your project)



Put on protective gloves and face mask.


Combine 4 level shovels of ‘brickies loam’ with 1 level shovel of builders cement in your wheelbarrow. The ratio 4:1 can be multiplied out depending on the quantity you need.



Mix dry ingredients until combined.

Step 4:

Put 10mls of detergent into a bucket and half fill your bucket with water. It’s ideal if you fill the bucket using a hose so the detergent is activated and starts to bubble and foam.

Step 5:

To this size mix (4:1) add roughly 1/2 litre of the foaming water into your dry ingredients in the wheelbarrow. Not too much. It’s better to add small amounts of water as you’re mixing than adding too much.

Step 6:

Use your shovel to mix the ingredients thoroughly. Turn the ingredients over, and over; work your way around the wheelbarrow so everything gets thoroughly mixed.

Add small amounts of the foaming water, as necessary, and mix until you create a smooth consistency. Texture should not be too wet or runny.

The test: Using your trowel check to see if the mortar is the right consistency. Put a little on the end of your trowel, gently flick and quickly turn trowel upside down. If mortar sticks to the trowel when it’s upside down, it’s good to go.


What is Plasticiser in a mortar mix?

Plasticiser is a liquid that is added to the water. It stops the mortar drying quickly and it makes the mix easier to work with. It creates bubbles in the water which aerates the mortar and makes it ‘fluffy’.  An example of a product you can use is ‘brickies mate’ or ‘Lanko 5L 311 Bricklayers Plasticiser’.


If you don’t have plasticiser on hand, as an alternative you can use is a splash of detergent. Use as described in step 4 and in ‘tips’.

How do I mix mortar for stone walls?

The recipe: 3 sand : 1 cement : plasticiser and add oxide to suit the color of the stone.  Oxide is available in a range of colors;  red, black, brown, ochre etc.

Important tip: When adding oxide to the mortar mix always add exactly the same quantity to each mix. Don’t guess how much you’ve used in the last mix because you can find a big variation when it dries.

Determine the color you want first and stick to that formula.

Most importantly use a small container, eg a cup. An example mix could be 3 sand : 1 cement : 1/2 cup of oxide mixed in the water with the plasticiser. The next mix must be measured in the same quantites.

Important Note: this mix is not structural. It’s used with the rock as a cladding on the outside of an already constructed concrete masonry wall (which would be built to an engineer’s specification).

How do I make a sandstone mortar mix?

A sandstone mortar mix is used for grouting sandstone. The color of the sandstone determines the color of the sand and cement you need to use.

As an example, I recently laid  ‘crazy pave’ sandstone on a path. I used tile glue to lay the sandstone on to the concrete pathway and then used a sandstone mortar mix to grout.

The recipe that suited the colors in the sandstone was: 3 shovels of white beach sand to 1 shovel of white cement + plasticiser.

You may have to do some research on the sand you choose as there are so many different colored sands. To find the color that best suits the sandstone that you’re laying I suggest mixing a small quantity as a test (you can use a tablespoon to mix the ratio) and allow to dry in the sun to check the color is suitable when it’s dry.

How do I make a white mortar mix?

When making a white mortar you have to choose a white sand. Usually the white sand doesn’t have clay or loam in it so it’s ‘dead’. You need to add lime.

The recipe: 3 shovels of bleached white sand: 1 shovel white cement : 1 shovel of lime

Caution:  Use lime with caution as it burns skin and eyes. Use appropriate protective clothing and glasses/ gloves/  equipment to protect yourself.

What is ready mix mortar?

Available in a bag with the correct ratio of brickies loam and cement that you can purchase from a hardware or landscape supplies. Handy for small jobs only.


The advantage is every 10 kg bag always makes a consistent mix.

Do I need to add lime to a mortar mix?

No. Lime makes the mortar more workable, but it’s rarely used because it tends to burn your skin and eyes. Plasticiser is used instead. The exception is if you’re building a bbq, fireplace or pizza oven. In this instance, it’s a good idea to use lime because lime helps with ‘movement’ caused by extreme temperature changes.


Caution applies when using lime. Protect your skin and eyes as lime burns.

What is brickies loam?

It’s used to mix the mortar for laying bricks and blocks.

Brickies loam is a 50/50 mix of sand and loam and is the name of the product you ask for at your local landscape supplier.


Note: For small jobs you can buy pre-mix mortar. Each bag contains the correct ratio of brickies loam and builders cement. Although this is an easy option for small jobs, I don’t recommend it for larger jobs as it’s not cost effective.

What's the difference between mortar and concrete?

Mortar is what you use to lay bricks.

Concrete is structural. It’s used for constructions. EG footings, slabs, filling besser blocks. You wouldn’t use mortar to make a slab (you’d use concrete).

Concrete is made up of sand, gravel and cement.

Mortar is made of brickies loam, lime and cement.

What is cement?

Builders cement is the product that is added to sand and gravel to made concrete or added to brickies loam to make mortar. Cement is supplied in a bag.

Example mortar receipe:

Cement mortar mix ratio:  4 shovels brickies loam : 1 shovel builders cement + water + plasticiser

That’s a wrap!

How easy was that? You’ve now successfully mixed mortar to lay bricks. Get the products from the local hardware or landscape supplier and DIY this weekend!

Check out my videos on how to mortar and how to lay bricks

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